JG522 - Top Daddy

This show is hosted by Jesse Thorn, America's radio sweetheart and Jordan Morris (MaxFun page), boy detective.

Today they have a guest from the world of music and podcasting that you know from The Long Winters, from his time as a celebrated local columnist, as a raconteur, as the host of Maximum Fun’s own Friendly Fire podcast, and as the host of other podcasts: John Roderick.

John is disappointed that no-one has called him Daddy since he came in, because he is clearly Top Dad. He is wearing all the accoutrements that should indicate to people that he is Top Dad and everybody just gave him this weird Maximum Fun shy eye which it is not enough!

Los Angeles (JG522)

Because John is not an Angelino (a person living in Los Angeles), Jesse and Jordan don’t have him on the podcast as much as they would like. John was in Los Angeles during a few days around Valentine’s day and had performed a romantic concert in celebration of Valentine’s day the night before. He came down to romance the stone, and now he was just hanging out because he has a room in one of those weird downtown high-rises with floor to ceiling windows and a view of all the helipads of Downtown Los Angeles, of which there are many.

It was a law in Los Angeles that you had to have a helipad on every building over 5 stories tall (see also OM70 about this topic), but they changed it recently because all the top-dog architects didn’t want to build buildings in Los Angeles because they couldn’t put cool spires on them. They were all building in Dubai, causing Los Angeles to have an inferiority complex. There is so much traffic in the city because there are not enough spires. Woody Allen had done this joke already in 1973.

With his floor-to-ceiling windows, John does some gazing-out while lying in bed, looking across the great view of Los Angeles that you normally only see when you are in a helicopter.

John going to bed late (JG522)

John’s problem is that he always stays awake until 3am whether he tries otherwise or not. He could take straight heroin at 8pm and would still be awake until 3am. The next day he has to wake up at 6am to get his kid to school but he is on this 3 hours of sleep thing. When he gets home and his daughter wants to play with him, he just needs a little nap and she will roll her big blue eyes at him, thinking that her daddy is a loser. Then she goes and plays her own lonely games while John lays down on the couch trying to get a half hour more sleep before she comes back and says ”Nap time is over!” and does what she calls Kan Fu, which is just to jump on his head.

That is John’s life right now and he does not know how to go to bed at 10pm. John is a native late-nighter and he is one of those people who believe that days should be 28 hours, because then he could stay up until 3am, go up at 6am and still get 7 hours of sleep. His late-night habit also comes from all his years on tour.

Now that John is staying in a loft in Los Angeles, the 2:30am gaze over the city makes him feel really powerful. He feels like Michael Douglas with his power-tie on, yelling ”The world is mine!" He is pacing around and making plans for how he is going to land his helicopter on every single building in Downtown, like Q*bert, changing the color of the roof he hops on.

John giving a romantic concert (JG522)

John gave a romantic concert the day before the recording which was not very stank, but it featured a lot of Indie Rockers who are typically not known for their bump & grind. It was oriented around a single grand piano and there are not a lot of taboo rhythms that go along with piano sound. It was heart-felt and there was a lot of vulnerability which is what people want in romance these days. John is pretty good at that and he was softly filling the audience with his song full of sorrow.

Netflix (JG522)

Jordan received a mass-email from the Netflix corporation with the headline of ”Watching Netflix tonight?” which seemed cruel, like a taunt. John thinks it is actually pretty kind that they are normalizing aloneness. Netflix suggested Star Wars Rogue One to Jordan, a movie with a name that taunts the lonely.

Topical jokes (JG522)

Jordan had a business-like Valentine’s day. These days his lifestyle is that of a freelance writer and a top dad. When you want to get a job on a late night show, you have to do a submission for them (in a vial?) and he did not have a lot of luck getting staffed on late night shows lately, probably because he is sending them vials of cum. If they requested vials of urine and you send them a vial of cum, that is a power move!

Usually you are supposed to submit things that would be on the show, like topical jokes about the news, desk pieces or sketches. Jordan had a nice night working on topical jokes that he was going to use as his submission for a late night show. John has never understood the ability to just sit down, churn out jokes and send them off like it ain’t no thing and the next day just make more jokes.

Example for a topical joke: Jean White, the American skateboarder won a gold medal in the Winter Olympics in South Korea and he was seen dragging an American flag on the ground.
- We should send him to Cuba.
- Fuck me? No! Fuck you!

Jordan going to early morning swimming (JG522)

Jordan has been swimming lately and the organization he is part of has three sessions per day he can go to: An afternoon swim around 12:30, an evening swim at 6pm and also a morning swim at 6am. The folks at the afternoon swing are the reg swims, the hunks. There are lean hunks, beefy hunks, tattooed hunks, shaved hunks, neck-tattoo hunks, any kind of hunks! Jordan started challenging himself to go to the 6am morning-swim because he is all about pushing himself.

He will set his alarm to 5:20am and he tries to get on the road by 5:30am, just grabbing an RX bar for breakfast. The swim is in Burbank and the diner game up there is very strong. You grab a little snack at the pool and you treat yourself to a nice bacon and egg afterwards. There are all kinds of bean pie and other foods that don’t exist anywhere else in the world at places with a 70 year old server. There are all those green pies made out of fasberries (?) and winkle berries. You should only go to diners where the servers are over 50, that is the standard Burbank methodology.

The bargain you are making with the 6am swim is that you feel like a fucking million bucks until around 6pm when you want to go to sleep. You are more effective for that short time, but trying to do anything after 6pm is now impossible. Jesse feels almost exactly the same way by virtue of having children, the only difference being that he feels terrible all the time.

There are not as many hunks at the 6am swim and the crows consists of women with long grey braids who may have a common-law husband and who may be interested in crystals. They are fit, they sleep under a pyramid and they probably have lunch with Beck sometimes. It is a different ball-game. The first time he was there and got to the end of his lane, a woman that Jordan will now just call Sheryl or Jan just tapped him on the shoulder, gestured to the sky and said ”Hey look! The sun is coming up!” and they all floated in the water and watched the sun rise.

The other day he went out of the pool and another Jan tapped him on the shoulder and said ”You know, your body is really changing!” It felt really nice, although Jordan doesn’t know what she meant. She was indicating at the same time that Jordan is becoming accepted as a member of this tribe. They are noticing him, they are watching the transformation and they are taking some ownership in his progress. It is nice to feel seen, maybe even awkward a little bit?

Jordan as also tried evening swim, but there it is a little more of a mix of young parents. The hunks are there in the afternoon. They come to swim unless they have an audition, the early swim people are just naturally early risers and the later swim is for people who cannot make either of those.

John’s missing front tooth (JG522)

Many years ago when John and Jesse met for the first time, John was missing a front tooth. For Jesse, John was just a strange man who was friends with John Hodgman and who only had one front tooth. John didn’t have really long hair then, but he had the same moderately long handsome locks he has today. For a while, John had his hair down to the small of his back and he was missing a front tooth, a look that communicated that you are a man in your 40s who is thriving. Jesse thought at the time that he had never seen anybody look so handsome who at the same time was so well-suited to having only one front tooth. Usually when you meet a person without a front tooth, your main feeling is ”concern”.

John cuts his own hair, but it would have been better for him over the years to just have a haircut that is his own, which is what most men do: They pick a haircut and just roll with that for their life. It is called personal branding. John has never done that, but he has just grown it out long. Usually before a photo shoot he would cut his hair at 3am, he would do a butcher job and therefore he looks awful on all the professional photo shoots like he had put a bowl around his hair.

John always thought that this was his brand, but of course the only thing he communicated was that this person didn't have money to spend on a haircut. John grew his hair long several times in his life, most recently in his 40s, and he was very impressed with it because it developed a natural curl and all these interesting highlights that hadn’t been there before. He really enjoyed it!

Then John got asked to moderate a debate for the mayoral campaign in Seattle. He is active in the political life in Seattle and he was representing the league of Indie Rock photos, he was there to communicate with the people on the street, which is to Seattle what the NRA is to Alabama. In the middle of the night, John spontaneously thought that to a mayoral debate you can either come with a missing tooth or with long hair, but not both and so he cut off 2.5 years of hair. He had braided it sometimes, but he never had a man-bun because those didn’t exist at this point and it would never have occurred to him to put a top-knot on his head because he is not a samurai.

Normally a person would have all their teeth. When John was young, before he got sober, he lived a much more rough and tumble life. He was not a respected Indie Rocker, journalist or podcaster yet, but he was just a drunk young person pursuing a very different course. During that time John sustained a lot of bodily injuries, like broken hands and broken other things. If John shaves his head, it looks like a switch yard in a railroad town with train tracks of stitches.

Missing a tooth is a reoccurring theme because initially he got all of his front teeth really damaged and they were put back together by a team of government dentists. Suddenly he could chew through metal! Later he crashed one of the front teeth into a microphone as part of his Rock job and since that time he sometimes has it and he sometimes doesn’t, depending how much he remembers not to eat nuts with it. John has been communicating with a new crack dentist and they are working on a project where he will in the future be much less likely to sometimes show up to places missing a tooth. A product of it is a subtle lispy whistle that can even be heard on his other podcasts.

Listener calls (JG522)

If something momentous happens, you can call the show at (206) 984-4FUN.

Robin from Chicago

Robin got back from a trip to Ireland and as soon as she boarded the plane, a couple with two toddlers got moved from her row to 15 rows in front and no-one ever came to sit in those seats, so she spent the entire 8 hour flight just lying completely flat across 4 seats, sleeping like a baby.

That has happened to John before many times, back in the day when airlines would undersell their international flights. One time he was flying back home from Frankfurt and there was an empty row in the middle of the plane. As soon as they would reach cruising altitude he was just going to jump to that row. Other people were of course thinking the same thing and it was a real Mexican stand-off.

John has never seen this before on any flight, but they immediately began a drink service from the back and immediately blocked that row with their cart. John couldn’t leap the cart until they moved it forward and right as they were at his row, a guy from the row right behind him leapt and spent the rest of the flight on this 5-seat bed!


He was sitting on the couch and decided to enjoy some pornography on his television and a few minutes in he realized he had to pee, but he didn’t want to go all the way upstairs and ruin the moment, so he looked to his right and there was a cup of tea he had just finished, so he used that one. After he was finished enjoying the pornography, he was thirsty and to his right there was a lovely cup of tea. Of course he accidentally drank his own urine. The bright side is that it didn’t even taste that bad.

Jesse can’t even imagine a life so free and luxurious that pornography would be on televisions!

John used to live in a very cool Rock’n’Roll loft in Downtown Seattle that was unfinished and full of Rock’n’Roll layabouts. It was the kind of life where they would find a piano on the street and things like that. Their bathroom was down the hall and it was shared by a bunch of artists and other degenerates. It was a big loft, so John had to walk all the way across the loft and all the way down the hall and he didn’t like doing that. He is a big man and can’t pee in a teacup, but he would pee in gallon milk-jugs. The other Rock ’n’ Roll loft dwellers were a little bit more gentile.

Then John realized that the loft was right across an alley from the police station and rather than go down to the bathroom to empty these, he started just hucking them as hard as he could against the wall of the police station and they would explode like a big urine bomb, which was his little gesture of rebellion at the time. Because it was an alley, it really had no effect on the police at all, but all it did was make that alley uninhabitable for people who wanted to go down there and collect cans. It was more of a symbolic resistance and it screwed it up for the poor like almost everything does in the end.

John did however appall one potential girlfriend who looked under his bed and asked if those were two gallons of pee and as John confirmed, she said she didn’t know if she could make this work. She went to a good school and she didn’t have to deal with this.

Alex from Northern California

Alex finally got his titties cut off! He is transgender and he had bilateral mastectomy. He is super-high on pain medication and he wanted to call in and tell this to Jordan, Jesse and guest, particularly while he was high!


They somehow talk about the movie Cool Runnings. It came out when John was in college at the height of his pot smoking. They did a lot of pot and other drugs because pot is a gateway drug and John had been through the gate and was over in drug land, the United States of Drugachussettes. It was the time when High Times magazine had that back page with 100 jams on it. People would send in things to be on this list of 100 things that were really eery or cool. There would be shout-outs to people, like ”Big ups to Hairy Bear for helping us to get our bus back on the road!” They went to see Cool Runnings and they had a great time, but John hasn’t seen it since.

They talk about artists and their warm-up techniques. What John does to warm up before the show is to wake up. Then somebody rolls him onto the stage.

Friendly Fire (JG522)

John is the host of Friendly Fire, a brand new podcast on the Maximum Fun network. He has been a friend of Maximum Fun for many years, but he has never had a product. He has guested as bailiff on the Hodgman show when Jesse was jet-setting around, but now he has the show Friendly Fire with Adam and Ben from The Greatest Generation. John was the one who once introduced Adam and Ben. Adam was making a documentary film about the Long Winters for a long time and Ben was working in New York for N-Gadget and he kept trying to pitch TV-shows to John.

One show they had in mind was John driving across America in a primer-painted Corvette T-Top while Ben and the team would chase him in a Winnebago as they went to all the most depressed former industrial towns of America. John would walk around interviewing people, trying to figure out what was next in Poughkeepsie, New York. What are they going to do? What was the story? That pitch is still available if there are any network people out there listening!

Friendly Fire is a podcast about watching old war films. When they initially started doing the show it seemed like it was maybe the last thing that Maximum Fun would want on the network: Three white guys talking about war movies, which generally do not have a lot of female characters. It is a super-duper dad-sounding premise, but they really got into watching the films with a critical eye, trying to figure out not just how these films work as films, but also how they were made in their contemporary context. A war movie from 1954 speaks about how people thought about masculinity in the 1950s and about what they thought masculinity in the 1940s looked like, which was quite different from each other and from what they thought about it in 1917.

John and Adam also wanted to list the ordnances available on various aircrafts. John is not somebody who will say that those shoe laces were wrong, but he does like to talk about what was happening in the actual war, like this event was a pivotal moment and afterwards the Soviets couldn’t advance, or whatever. It is dad stuff, but John tries to make it interesting. His co-hosts try to punctuate it with a lot of fart jokes, because that is a big success on their Star Trek podcast, but John tries to shut that down. They talk about focal lengths and lighting and all this film stuff, which is interesting, or is it?

The three of them have a tremendous rapport with one another and they have been friends for a long time. Ben is quite a bit younger than John and Adam is in the middle, so they also have very different cultural contexts. Ben brings a millennial take, he will throw in some Berkley shit if you need that, while John is Mr Dank Memes, while Adam is a classic Semiotics major (no, not really).

The show is super-fun to do! John didn’t realize how great it would be to watch these old films, parse them and dig them. The listener doesn't have to watch the movies to enjoy the show. A lot of the films you expect to be good are good or in some cases even better than you remember. If you watch Apocalypse Now with a critical eye, you will find major flaws in that movie, but it is one of the pinnacles of cinema, even if you know all the terrible stories and even if you want Marlon Brando to be in a different movie or if you want a different Marlon Brando in that movie.

Master & Commander is a flawless film that is great in every respect. Rambo is an abomination, truly indefensible at every turn and it created not just war movie tropes that plague us to this day, but it also had a profound effect on America at the time and changed American political culture in the 1980s in a super-bummer way. They spent hundreds of millions of dollars pursuing the idea that there were POW in the dozens being held still in Vietnamese prison camps into the late 1980s. 25 years after the war ended the Vietnamese inexplicably were still supposed to be keeping American service men in bamboo cages and they spent millions chasing down this idea that there was no evidence for.

They cover war movies across the whole spectrum, even foreign films and films in languages other than English. They did the Three Kings about the original Gold War and that was a film where they were split on. His co-hosts loved the film, but John thinks it does not hold up and has a kind of early-1990s hip filmmaking thing with a lot of jump cuts that cheapened the fact that there were people dying.

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